When Homestead Village, a retirement community in Lancaster, Pa., decided to enlarge its main dining room, it took the opportunity to meld the desires of two cultures—younger baby boomers who wanted casual dining and older residents who preferred a more formal setting. Working with a $150,000 budget, dining services, which is managed by Cura Hospitality, designed a more open servery that improved traffic flow and increased menu choices, and a seating area with tables and booths that gives the space a restaurantlike feel.
The resulting space is known as the Glasford Room, a dining room that offers sit-down waitservice at breakfast and dinner and a scatter servery for self-service at lunch. The servery features an action station, deli, entrée station, and a large soup and salad bar.
“This has struck a chord that appeals to everybody,” says Doug Motter, president, Homestead Village. “Older residents missed the formal dining, and newer residents love the new action station.”
The dining program has had several iterations, Motter explains, going from a meal plan to a pay-as-you-go plan called Homestead Dollars that residents buy into depending on where they live in the community.
“We once had a very traditional one-meal-a-day plan with a formal dining room,” he notes. “In the 1990s, we built a more casual dining space that served breakfast, lunch and dinner. It became so popular that in 2004 we had to move it to the main dining room because more people wanted that than wanted formal dining.”
In 2006 the space—known as the Village Café— was renovated and remained the main dining component until the latest renovation.
“Basically, the deli, entrée station, soup and salad bar and action station were all in a line,” says John Lush, general manager for Cura. “The speed of service was very slow. So what we did with this new renovation was, we purchased a new action station and we split up the line, placing the deli on one side and the action station on the other. It’s made for much smoother service.”
The other move was to bring the salad bar out to the front of the servery, to allow people who want hot food to select their cold items from the salad bar first.
Also, with the new action station, cooking to order is now a daily occurrence, Lush adds, explaining that it used to be operated about three days a week.
Finally, a wall was built separating the servery from the dining space. “Before, it was all open so if you were sitting anywhere in the dining room the congestion of people trying to get food was all on display,” Motter says.
The net effect of all the changes has been improved customer satisfaction. Motter says participation is up 25% and revenue has increased 15%.